20200331-bc-COVID_19 (copy)

In this file photo, Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd speaks during a COVID-19 news conference.

Medical facilities in Kern County are being pushed to the limit as more and more residents contract COVID-19.

During a Thursday news conference, Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd said all local hospitals have reached the point of maximum capacity and were beginning to implement surge plans.

A state model predicted the county would run out of staffing and space to treat coronavirus patients by the end of July. With hospitals reaching capacity several times over the last few weeks, and no sign that infections will decrease any time soon, Kern officials have started scrambling in search of new staff to work in intensive care units.

“What we thought was going to be in March or April is upon us in July and August,” Judd said in reference to early predictions that hospitals would exceed capacity last spring.

He later added the number of COVID-positive patients continued to increase, taxing resources. “We do know that there are more patients, they’re sicker patients, so we need to be able to prepare for that increased number.”

In anticipation of even more residents needing medical care, the county plans to use federal CARES Act money to bring in intensive care unit nurses from across the country to allow local hospitals to staff ICUs above their licensed capacity. At the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, the county plans to retroactively authorize a contract with a staffing agency to bring the nurses to Kern.

“There’s not enough RNs who live in Kern County to provide this level of care,” Judd said, later explaining that the traveling nurses were sometimes paid in excess of triple normal wages. “However, we’re securing this now in anticipation of the continued increase in the number of cases. We are firm believers that if we waited until the crisis hit and we got to the point where we had to have them now, there would not be any nurses available.”

Ambulance services, too, are being pushed to the limit. Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine reported Hall Ambulance was experiencing record numbers of calls, causing them to struggle with the increased workload. He added the company had reportedly driven more than 1,000 COVID-positive individuals or individuals suspected of being COVID-positive.

So many ambulances have been needed recently, that some of Hall's leadership team, who are paramedics or EMTs, have gotten behind the wheel on certain shifts to help with staffing.

Mark Corum, director of Hall's media services, said that Hall had subcontracted with Liberty Ambulances out of Ridgecrest to cover Hall's California City region. This will allow the company to divert more ambulances to the Bakersfield area.

Still, Hall requested two state "strike teams" to reinforce the company's service. The teams, which consist of five ambulances each, will be in Bakersfield over the weekend.

"Everybody at Hall Ambulance is giving 200 percent, but it’s swelled up to the point where we felt compelled to be proactive and say hey we need to get some additional assistance," Corum said of the strike teams.

He added that backlogs in local emergency rooms meant ambulance crews sometimes waited up to four hours to drop off a patient, and local hospitals had overburdened the company with interfacility transfers to places outside of Bakersfield.

"It’s created a tremendous burden because you only have a finite number of paramedics and EMTs that you can put on the schedule," he said.

Hall is working with the county to create a plan where some patients could be dropped off at urgent care locations rather than emergency rooms, easing the overcrowding, he continued.

"This would help reduce the burden of ER overcrowding, decrease our time on task, and allow for more ambulances to be available to respond," he wrote in an email.

The increase in daily reported cases comes as U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has worked to secure additional testing resources for the county. On Wednesday, McCarthy announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had approved surge testing capacity in Bakersfield.

That could allow up to 60,000 people to be tested quickly, Constantine said during the meeting. The county plans to announce up to three new testing sites to accommodate the federal government’s action.

The new sites would come with the ability to analyze test samples in their own lab, Constantine said, with a turnaround time that shouldn't exceed 48 hours.

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

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(37) comments

Masked 2020

Zippy.... .are you talking about the banned quack physicians who have never cared for sick covid patients that are backed by MikePence and the TeaPartyPatriots?...odd it has to be banned.... the Alien DNA, Demon Sperm, and Hydroxychloroquine folks....I'll pass


Do you even know where’s she’s from? It does not shock me that she would say those types of things, they are typical beliefs from a lot of people in her culture. I am not trying to defend those doctors in anyway but people need to look a little further into stuff before they just start believing everything they read on the internet. But hey, it doesn’t surprise me the internet has made a lot of people very very smart masked 2020 is a prime example.


Mocked 2020: Do you realize that they were banned because they went against the naraitive that Fauci and the pharmaceutical companies want you to believe? Why should any alternative viewpoint be banned? Perhaps you would be more happy living in China, where they ban anything that they don't want their citizens to be aware of.....


Everyone should watch the banned video with many doctors on Monday regarding Covid misinformation, including a Bakersfield doctor. Facebook, Twitter, etc., have all banned this info because it goes against what we are being told to be the truth about the cure. It seems that Trump has been correct all along about hydroxy being, basically cheap and successful in curing patients. It's been watched over 17 million times.


It's so easy to be a monday morning quarterback, isn't it? No one actually knew what to do about this virus....,,....it was a learning experience for everyone


actually, you are wrong. sorry. look at germany, japan, france, canada. A LOT of people knew how to handle a global pandemic. A LOT of people did not listen.


Obama allowed all of the "pandemic" supplies to deplete. If you get a stubbed toe do you also blame Trump for it?


no, I blame myself for stubbing my toe. I blame people exactly like you for both trump AND the spread of this virus.

Unruly Panda

Also, you folks realize that Kern County has not actually been in compliance with the State's metric for the last 2 months, right? There are several different measurements that cause a County to fall out of compliance. Cases per 100,000 measured over 14 days, with a 3 day lag is one of them. For Kern to be in compliance, we need to have less than 900 cases reported in a 14 day period, or basically not more than 65 per day. If you look at the KPH dashboard for the last 2 month, you will see that we have exceeded that measurement for every 14 day period going back to the end of May. KPH has failed to timely update the numbers, whether because of delays by labs in reporting results, or KPH lagging on compiling and reporting the data, or both. As a result, test results have been getting posted to dates that fall outside of the 17 day reporting period. So you see dates from a month ago, that are still getting updated. Look at June 23. A week ago, the numbers for that date were around 350. Now it is 440. Updating test results for a sample date that is a month old. So the whole time since Memorial Day, the County has been reporting that we were in compliance, while the whole time we actually were not. People running around thinking that everything is peachy, not worried about needing to maintain strict mask compliance, unknowingly spreading the virus. Which why we are getting our butts kicked now.

Lil ole me

Ditto....been watching the same thing for two months.

Lil ole me

I have one question. How can hospitals be at capacity with 158 people in the the hospital with COVID19?

Unruly Panda

Actually, as of today, Kern Public Health (KPH) only reports 149 patients "isolated" in hospitals. Meanwhile, the State page reports 293 current hospitalizations, of which 269 are confirmed and 24 are pending confirmation. The difference is that KPH only reports patients that are still considered contagious, while the State reports the actual utilization of beds by Covid patients. ICU patients are staying on ventilators, or on tracheotomy tubes, for weeks before they die. Regardless, the measure of hospital capacity is not the percent of physical infrastructure that remains available, but the number of available medical professionals available to care for the patients. If you have 1000 beds available, but no nurses, you have zero capacity to provide care. Hence the advance search for additional traveling nurses to bulwark the system. I can tell you that ICU nurses in Kern are being paid large bonuses to encourage them to pick up additional shifts to cover staffing shortages. It is not a good situation, by any interpretation.

Inconvenient Truth

“'What we thought was going to be in March or April is upon us in July and August,' Judd said in reference to early predictions that hospitals would exceed capacity last spring."


The only thing the Lockdowns accomplished was delaying cases.

On the other hand, Sweden, by not locking down, has essentially achieved Herd Immunity.

Drs. Erickson and Massihi have been right all along.


Inconvenient Truth: Yes, they have been right all along.........but they will not get any credit for it.

Unruly Panda

Umm, no. Sweden is only about 1/4 to 1/5 of the way to achieving herd immunity. Recent antigen testing reflected 14% positivity among subjects. According to most experts, herd immunity will require 60% to 70% penetration by the virus. So Sweden has a long way to go in that regard. Meanwhile, their mortality rate for confirmed cases is over 7% and their economy has still be hit almost as hard as their neighboring countries, Norway and Denmark, which imposed stricter measures. Meanwhile the those two countries have hugely lower case and mortality percentages. If you want to show a success story, look at Japan. A country that has roughly 40% our population, but less than 1% of the number of cases and fatalities. A country that didn't shut down. What do they do? Universal mask and physical distancing compliance.


omg. are you really that stubborn ? You are wrong, you have been proven wrong, and I guess you will die wrong.


The people that state that things would have been different had a Dem been president: They were the ones that said "go out to Chinatown and have fun," "go on dating sites and have fun".........it's idiotic to say that they would have known what to do since even the "experts" didn't know. This virus is like nothing we have ever seen before, so to blame it on Trump is idiotic. Fauchi was wrong as were so many other "experts." It's easier to blame Trump, though, isn't it? TRUMP 2020!


trump and you, one and the same. both INSANE.


Rather than calling me "insane" why don't you argue your case with facts?


because there is no point. Arguing with a trump supporter is futile.


I blame you and people like you for all the rioting, looting, attacking police, in all of the cities controlled by evil Democrat Governors and Mayors! Anyone who stays being a Democrat when this anarchy is taking place is hoping for the demise of the U.S.!

Masked 2020

may I ask a question?.......just where exactly in the America are these nurses who are not already taking care of Covid patients?......pretty sure there is a nationwide shortage of intensive care nurses.....this might be a lot of HappyTalk.......Folks Should of Voted Blue in 2016.....and here we are...way up the creek .............and no paddles


If America had voted blue as you say, the current situation would be worse. Who's "we"? Are you up a creek at the moment?




To hear that Kern County is planning ahead with the hiring of RNs and securing additional and/or renewing contracts with ambulance services, is encouraging. But as long as people who do not wear masks and do not distance themselves are not fined or arrested, this pandemic will continue to be a threat to all of our lives. Please make it a felony to not wear a mask in public, with severe consequences. The only way the coronavirus will be stopped or at least diminished. Read the 1905 First Amendment case, regarding a person's right not to be immunized.


For the last 2 months California has had the strictest laws on wearing masks, social distancing and a lockdown. One would expect with such severe measures infection should have significantly dropped. If infections are surging then the masks, social distancing and lockdowns are not working. To continue enforcing these laws is a sign of madness. Doing the same thing expecting a different result is madness

Boogerface Nutter

Yeah...except that the geniuses in Bako, the "I know my rights" idiots and the ones who seem to think it's not manly to wear a mask when out in public likely don't know they have and are spreading the virus.

It's the asymptomatic morons who spread this stuff.

Wear a mask, genius. There are many great looking ones and you can wear a bandana just as easily.

What is not working is thinking you know what you're talking about and expecting different results.


Exactly! Are these people missing a gene or something?

Independent Voter

I'm gonna side with Dweeb, JR, etc. on this one. I WANT to see masks, social distancing and such ENFORCED. But for a different reason. I absolutely want to see if it makes a difference in the number of cases. From the first day of New Lockdown/Enforcement With Consequences, we begin the two week countdown. We would expect a "bending of the curve", right? Dweeb, you'd be proud because I wore a mask today when I was out and about. And something else I haven't shared with you - I haven't been in a store since late March.


So you're a wardrobe expert too?


It sure worked in Europe, China, New Zealand, China, Singapore,

Hong Kong. People have not complied here. Following Trump'shorrible example. . Been paying attention much?


Mostdumb: You can't have it both ways (but as a know nothing Liberal, I guess you can) either Newsom is right and Europe is wrong or Europe is right and Newsom is wrong. Over 20 countries reopened schools in June, and some, like Taiwan, Nicaragua, and Sweden, never closed them to begin with. Day cares remained open for essential workers in many countries, and although there are exceptions, outbreaks have generally been rare.


because they had low counts BEFORE they reopened AND because EVERYONE was masked, practiced social distance and were scrupulous about hand cleansing. In southern cal about 1/2 the population though masks were stupid and that bars were safe.


Hit. The nail. On the head.


it has NOT been enforced. Up until a week ago probably 60% of kern county was still griping about how they would NEVER wear a mask as it was stupid and not effective. This has been brought on by simple idiocy.


the masks, social distancing and hand washing have mostly been ignored or actively fought by trumps believers.


@loveourflag, do you have data to support your statement? We have been told to follow the science from our wonderful leaders and your statement does not fall in line with what the data is saying. Please try and educate yourself.

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